Winner of Best Australian Short Documentary at the 2020 Melbourne Documentary Film Festival, “Silver Lining” introduces viewers to a Chinese immigrant in her 60s as she adjusts to life in Melbourne following the tragic passing of her husband.
The woman, who has lived in Melbourne for four years, doesn’t speak English but does her best to stay busy by immersing herself in various activities in her Chinatown community, some she enjoys and others not so much. As the film progresses, beautiful bursts of her personality come through and director Ran Li reveals an extraordinary portrait on resilience, compassion, and the human experience.
Through intimate camera angles, viewers are placed within her personal space and a connection with the audience is immediately formed despite her insistence that her only connection to the outside world are the moving cars and sunset beyond her window.
Telling the story of one person’s experience can perhaps at times be more challenging than telling the story of many. There’s less to fall back on. For both to be great though, a filmmaker has to approach their subject(s) with sensitivity. Ran Li excels at this. He captures his subject with warmth and knows when to pull back or step in. Never losing sight that there’s a real person on the other end of the camera. As a result, his subject captivates and his film flows with an exceptional grace.
By definition, a silver lining is the discovery of something hopeful or positive in a bleak situation. The glimmer is often a result of growth. A fresh outlook of seeing. As the film comes to an end, that shift becomes perceptible and feels like you have just witnessed something special.
Emotionally gorgeous, “Silver Lining” will tug at every one of your heartstrings and might just be the glimmer that brightens your view.
See “Silver Lining” screening May 23rd at Cinema Nova as part of the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival’s spotlight on Shorts from the 2020 fest. For ticket information, visit: cinemanova.com.au.